Following the iPad Keynote last week, there was a lot of debate about whether or not the new iPad is a small or big upgrade from the iPad 2.  There seemed to be a lot of disappointment in the fact that form factor was basically unchanged.  The disappointment for many only increased when benchmark results […]
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My First Day with the New iPad – A Review

Following the iPad Keynote last week, there was a lot of debate about whether or not the new iPad is a small or big upgrade from the iPad 2.  There seemed to be a lot of disappointment in the fact that form factor was basically unchanged.  The disappointment for many only increased when benchmark results began to leak before the official release that showed the new iPad to be very similar in processing speed to the iPad 2.  Yes, there were many upgrades including more RAM, a more powerful rear camera, a faster graphics chip, and 4G download speeds, but many reviewers and bloggers considered these to be “minor” or “non essential” upgrades.  Almost all early reviewers and those present at the Keynote, however, agreed that the new Retina screen was impressive.  So, is the new iPad a worthy upgrade for someone who owns an iPad already or is this tablet worth purchasing for someone buying their first tablet?

In order to answer these questions, I preordered the new iPad after the iPad Keynote last week and eagerly awaited for its arrival.  The iPad finally arrived Friday afternoon, and after practically pouncing on the UPS driver before he could even ring the doorbell, I quickly opened my new 32 GB Wifi iPad and began to put it through its paces.

The Retina Screen

I was eager to get a view of the new Retina screen.  When the screen first powered on, I was immediately blown away by what I saw.  The screen looked even better than I ever imagined it would.   I expected the screen to be at a level slightly below that of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, because its pixels per inch count is slightly lower than those phones.  What I saw, however, was a screen that not only blows away any other tablet on the market for clarity, but also made my iPhone’s retina screen look like slightly outdated technology.  When held at a normal distance, the pixels are truly indistinguishable.  Having so many pixels on a large mobile screen like the iPad is a beautiful thing to behold.  The colors of the new iPad are very rich and bright to the point where my iPhone screen even looked a bit washed out when switching back and forth between the iPad and my phone.  This is truly the best and clearest display I have ever used, period.  The new screen is something that you have to experience in person.  The screen, and the difference it makes when compared to past iPads, can’t truly be appreciated via pictures online or T.V. commercials.

For a device that is truly all about the screen, I don’t see how anyone can call the new Retina screen a minor upgrade.  This is a major step forward for the iPad and all tablets.  The biggest difference you will notice is how clear text looks.  The text is so clear that it looks like a printed glossy magazine.  This is my favorite part of the new iPad as I do a lot of reading on my iPad via online blogs, ebooks, magazines, and news apps.  The new screen makes them all beautiful.  Pictures and just about everything else seem to pop off of the screen.  It will take awhile for many of the apps to be upgraded to truly take advantage of the new screen, but the ones that are updated look outstanding.

Crisp, clear text that looks like a printed glossy magazine.

General Performance

As mentioned before, the new iPad is not a big step forward in general speed and performance.  In general, apps launch, load, and perform at about the same speed as they did on the iPad 2.  If anything,  the new iPad may be a split second faster in loading some apps.  In every day use, though, this won’t make much of a difference.  This is not a bad thing at all, as the iPad 2 is still plenty zippy and lag free. Someone, however, should not upgrade to the new iPad from an iPad 2 based just on the general usage performance.

A slight difference can be noticed in very graphically intense games.  The new iPad has a more advanced graphics chip and more RAM and this does cut down on any stuttering or slower frame rates that the iPad 2 would occasionally experience on very intense games.  This may become a more important issue as new, more graphically intense games are released in the near future to take advantage of the new iPad’s hardware.  I could see someone who intends to use their iPad predominantly as a gaming machine wanting to make the upgrade from the iPad 2 to the new iPad for this reason.

Battery Life

The fact that Apple is promising the same battery life for the new iPad despite a screen that displays four times as many pixels and despite offering 4G data is an impressive feat.  Owning the Wifi version of the new iPad, I can’t speak to the battery life while using 4G data.  I can, however, tell you that after using the new iPad pretty heavily since it arrived yesterday, I am impressed with the battery life.  I charged the iPad to 100% after receiving it yesterday afternoon.  I then proceeded to use the iPad on and off from about 2 P.M. yesterday till 8:00 P.M. this evening playing games, streaming movies, browsing the web, and checking email.  I still have about 20% battery life left after about 9 hours of usage.  I think I will slightly exceed the 10 hours promised by Apple.  I haven’t had the time to run it through any battery drain tests, but it is clear that the iPad will last for 2+ days of typical use for me before I need to recharge it.  This is fairly similar to, if not slightly better than, the battery performance than I got on the iPad 2.

My battery life after about 9 hours of use. Also, a good view of the sharp retina screen. 

Weight and Heat

Some of the most common complaints I read about the new iPad in early reviews were the slightly heavier weight and the fact that it puts out more heat.  I have to say that I do notice both of these “issues” slightly.  The new iPad does feel a little bit more heavy, but I keep my iPads in a case and this makes the difference fairly negligible.  I didn’t feel the tiny bit of extra weight caused me any more fatigue in holding the iPad, and it certainly didn’t bother me enough to long for my old iPad or notice much of a weight difference at all while I was engrossed in using it.  The new iPad, like the past models, is still a bit heavy to use one handed or read from while laying down for a long time comfortably.  It would have been nice to have an even slimmer and lighter iPad for these reasons, but I think the weight is a necessary trade off for the beautiful screen and long battery life.

I have noticed that the back of the iPad does get a bit warmer than the iPad 2 during general use.  I chalk this up the larger battery and more power needed by the screen.  It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the iPad at all or the comfort of holding it.  It also never got so warm that I worried about it having a negative effect on the iPad.  Once I had the iPad in a full body case, I didn’t notice this at all anymore.

A Worthwhile Upgrade?

Because the iPad really is all about interacting with the screen, I do see the new iPad and its beautiful new screen as a major upgrade from the iPad 2.  For new tablet owners, the performance of the new iPad is on par or better than that of the other high level tablets on the market.  The screen, however, blows away all competitors.  For this reason I highly recommend the iPad to anyone looking for their first tablet or looking to upgrade their original, first generation iPad.  For those who already own an iPad 2, the answer to the upgrade question is a little trickier.  I would recommend that iPad 2 owners give the new iPad a test drive at the Apple store to truly see what the new screen offers.

I do want to warn you, though:  The new iPad screen will ruin all other screens for you.  On second thought, if you are really intent on holding off on upgrading, maybe you are better off not being spellbound by that georgoues retina screen in the first place.  In that case, avoid the Apple store and anyone with a new iPad at all costs.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The new iPad makes all websites look like printed glossy magazines!


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